Promote Germane Cognitive Load

Germane cognitive activities are those relevant to the learning process. This includes the intrinsic cognitive load due to the need to attend to the elements of the to-be-learnt content and the interactivity between those elements.

Germane cognitive activities also include those that focus on, and modify, ones current knowledge base held in the form of schemas.

An individual’s personal knowledge base is defined by their schemas in a content domain. By modifying those schemas through elaboration, generalisation and association to other schemas a knowledge base evolves towards a higher level of expertise.

Schemas are applied with a level of conscious attention. As a learners expertise evolves schemas will be able to be applied with reduced levels of conscious attention. This is termed 'automation'.

By redesigning instructional materials to increase the cognitive load associated with germane cognitive activities schema acquisition and/ or schemas automation will be enhanced. As a result, learning increases.

Each of the germane cognitive load effects is based upon utilising an aspect of the developing schemas of the learners in the to-be-learnt content domain.

The underling aspect for each germane cognitive load effect is presented below.

Recall and apply developing schemas

Faded worked examples effect; progresively reduce the completeness of worked examples by backward fading, thus promoting learners to complete a solution process by applying their developing schemas.

Subgoals effect; provide subgoals  to guide learners through strategic milestones of a solution process.

Compare and contrast developing schemas

Diverse worked examples effect; provide a diverse range of worked examples to promote schemas generalisation and transfer of knowledge.

Self explanation effect; require learners to provide explanation of worked examples, thus linking the process to their schemas.

Develop automatic execution of procedural schemas

Automation effect; require drill and practice to promote automation of recall and application of schemas

Mental rehearsal effect; require mental rehearsal to promote automation of recall and application of schemas

Prepare schemas for enhancement and application

Priming effect: Provide triggers to promote recognition and recall of schemas associated with the soon to be presented to-be-learnt content.

Motivation effect; enable learners to select areas of personal interest and/ or expertise wherever practical in completing assessment tasks that requires the application of to-be-learnt content.

Next: Faded worked examples